Thursday, September 20, 2007

Great Reads...New and Old

Had a great time at the conference last weekend. (Waves to all my new friends.) One of my favorite questions came up: What books do you recommend? I rattled off a few, but that's a tough one since I have so many.

First, you might browse older blog entries as I'm usually soapboxing about some novel or other. And check back often, because it's a favorite topic.

New (to me) books, read this year, that I'd recommend:

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. Non-fiction, non-religious musings about a life of faith. If I lived in Portland I'd be Donald's friend.

The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. If you get past the Oprah backlash, the book is a standout on its own merit. Crazy family, an impending holiday. Chip is my favorite (slacker) character.

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. A throwback to the gothic tradition about a mysterious, bestselling author and the woman who researches her past.

The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon. A twisty tale involving a (fictional) displaced Jewish community in Alaska, their mafia-esque religious leaders, a chess genius and possible Messiah, and the shlumpy detective navigating a murder in a low-rent motel. Chabon's writing is sheer genius, and this one sent me to re-read another of his books, Wonder Boys, which is my favorite read of the year so far.

The Painted Veil by William S. Maugham. Saw the movie (gorgeous), read the book. I usually don't roll in that order, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Kudos to the always fantastic Edward Norton for championing the script. For the book, I enjoyed the deeper insights into Kitty's flighty character and the surprising emphasis on her spiritual journey (less pronounced in the film.)

Shopgirl by Steve Martin. Rewatched the movie, reread the book. Who knew King Tut could carry off such a dreamy yet spare literary style?

About a Boy by Nick Hornby. Again, for me a reverse order on the book/film scenario (a disturbing trend???), but a pleasant one. Enjoyed his writing style, the bare honesty of a narcissistic man adrift and the awkward boy who grounds him. Plus, you have to love that mother.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Z.Z. Packer. A collection of short stories held together by themes of race and place in society. If you read the first one "Brownies," you'll follow her all the way through.

The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. Hilarious memoir of a kid coming of age in consumer-happy 1950s.

Twilight of the Superheroes
by Deborah Eisenberg. If this hadn't been required for a class, I probably wouldn't have gotten past the comic cover. It just doesn't look like a book I'd read (which goes to show you about the whole judge/cover thing), but the opening story is a knockout. She takes a group of twentysomethings dealing with post 9-11 connections in New York City, and does a fresh take on the definitions of family and friendship. I'll read more of her work, which for me is a good test of if I really like an author or not.

Some of my all time favorites:

Plainsong by Kent Haruf
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Rapture of Canaan by Sheri Reynolds
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Beloved by Toni Morrison

Right now I'm reading Thereafter Johnnie by Carolivia Herron -- a difficult book, but so well written it's worth the trip.

That's all for now...I'm sure as soon as I sign off I'll think of more...

What about you? Any recent reads you'd recommend?

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Blogger "Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

Thanks for posting your faves! I'll add some to my thigh-high books-to-be-read list. :)

I've read Blue Like Jazz twice; Donald Miller's conversational writing style makes him seem approachable and likable even if the reader's viewpoint is a little different.

Some of my other favorites are Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (life-changing book based on Hosea), Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore (simply amazing), Three Weeks With My Brother by Nicholas & Micah Sparks (the memoir of best-selling author Nicholas Sparks), Even Now and Ever After by Karen Kingsbury (the latter book was written in 5 days and won Christian Book of the Year in July), and Quaker Summer by Lisa Sampson (all about simplicity). I look forward to reading what others like.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Redeeming Love is fantastic...I also enjoyed Francine Rivers's Mark of the Lion series. After reading Three Weeks With My Brother, I got to sit in on a phone interview with Nicholas Sparks and he seemed very down to earth, for all his success. He talked about writing from a faith perspective (his background is Catholic), and the limits he puts on his own writing...certain places that, from a moral standpoint, he chooses not to visit. Interesting, I thought.

Same Kind of Different is on my list, too, after such raves.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Kern said...

szxwxI mentioned "The $64 Tomato" in an earlier post, but I will mention it again. Anyone who has ever tried to nurture something that grows in the dirt will enjoy it. My other favorites so far this year are Wonder Boys, and The Corrections. One surprise read I had this year was Psycho by Robert Bloch. I always assumed that was an original screenplay by Hitchcock, but I saw the paperback on the library shelf, and it was every bit as tense as the movie.

9:41 AM  
Blogger *Tyler* said...

Funny, I just posted a new blog entry this morning that answers your question. Into the Wild is an all time favorite for Dale and me. We read it in 1997 and were thrilled to find out it will be coming out on the big screen next month. I am more of a catch-up movie renter, but I will definitely be seeing this one in the theater. I have read a couple of interviews with Sean Penn. He seems to be just as passionate about this book as we are so I don't think we will be disappointed.

Have a look at the new post. Kearn, you'll like it. There's a picture of the bus on it.

6:49 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

Briita I usually agree with your taste in books but I tried three times to read The Corrections and never got farther than the first sixty or seventy pages.

As far as recent novels that captured my imagination - gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson and The Tin Box by Holly Kennedy stand out.

3:27 PM  
Blogger SALLY VAUGHAN said...

hey britta
just finished "Even Cowgirls get the Blues" - Tom Robbins.Loved it , a 'Big Thumbs-Up!!'

sal x

2:43 AM  
Blogger Travis Erwin said...

Britta! Britta! Where Art Thou Britta?

10:57 AM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Travis, here I am! And I rebuke you and insist you keep on going with the Corrections. How do you not love Chip? And Enid and Alfred? Try'll like it.

I enjoyed gods in Alabama, too. Will have to look up The Tin Box.

People who love Tom Robbins LOVE Tom Robbins...I haven't read him yet, but should. And how appropriate, Sally, that you're reading about cowgirls?

Tyler, I'm off to look for the bus...

1:46 PM  

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